Lohifushi Island, Maldives (Saturday June 15) American Tim Curren today tookthe O?Neill Deep Blue Open 2002 title in what has been daubed the mostsensational WQS surfing contest ever. Tim Curren, who lit the touch paper tohis Deep Blue Open quest back in round three, was on fire as he entered thefinal blazing his way through to rack up his second ever WQS victory. Justafter midday, the dying minutes of the final saw Curren snatch a set waveand with a devastating forehand hook, charge down the line to pop an aerial360 right in front of the judges. The wave score elevated him from his 3rdposition to the top spot and with only a minute to go, Australians TobyMartin and Trent Munro were unable to respond and were forced to settle for2nd and 3rd respectively with Glyndyn Ringrose taking fourth.
Solid 2 meter plus conditions graced the lineup throughout the quarter andsemi finals but after a short break, Lohi’s really turned it on for theexplosive 40 minute final that followed. Shortly after the horn signalledthe start of the O’Neill Deep Blue Open final the four surfers opened theiraccounts with some high scoring waves. Munro opened with a massive 9-pointride before Martin charged back to chip away at his lead with a successionof high scoring waves. Curren sat wide, choosing to take off further up thepoint and picking off the long tubes with moderate success.
The final was fast becoming a battle between Munro and Martin. As the lasttwo minutes approached, all lenses were focused on whether Trent Munro couldtop Toby Martins lead by scoring over a 7.38. But at this level ofcompetition you should never rule anyone out. With a minute to go Tim Currentook off deep again and proceeded to attack the lip with huge verticalforehand snaps all the way down the line before boosting and landing anaerial 360. With arms aloft Curren revelled in the roars from the crowd.With only a minute remaining and with a tally of 24.07, Tim had done enoughto take the lead, the title, 2200 WQS points and the 8000 dollars (US) 1stplace prize money.
A stunned Curren exited the water in disbelief to be mobbed by surfers,spectators and the media scrum.
“I can?t believe it, woooh! The whole heat I was behind and I kept seeingthose guys get good waves and I just tried to be patient but I fell on a lotof waves and barrels kept shutting down on me I was just praying that a goodwave would come in and at the end it did. I remember thinking, this could bethe one, I just did everything I could but knew I had to do something big atthe end so I gave it all I had and I was able to land it. I shocked myselfwith that one, I was like “Oh my gosh!”
“That was such a great final, all the guys were ripping. There were just somany good surfers in this event I have been inspired by watching them alland to be able to win it I?m just shocked.” He added “?All the support thatI got from all the Australian guys when I came in was great?now I?m justgoing sit back and relax, hang out at home for the next two weeks before Igo to Africa, it’s the best start for me and I have a big year ahead of meso I’m really happy.?
Toby Martins three-wave combo racked up 23.7 points and saw him in the topspot for much of the final ten minutes but it proved not enough to securevictory with Curren lurking deep on the point.
“That was a pretty incredible final.” Said Toby “?when you look at the guyswho made it through it was always going to be tough. Trent just dominatedfrom the start and then Tim just came through at the end there and puteverything on the line, it just proved to be the champion that he is. He puteverything on the line and takes the glory today, good on him?
“I was trying so hard just to get in front of Trent, really concentrating onwave selection and turns, trying to mow him down When you take the lead youare never safe especially with the calibre of surfers that were in the finaltoday, your not safe until its over, Tim proved that today?its been the mostincredible event. YYou rock up and see world class waves its such a treat, Igot to get one back on Tim later in the year.” He added
A seemingly deflated Trent Munro took third. After chalking up the bestopening score with a huge 9, Trent then stepped up the pace again dominatinguntil the last 7 minutes of the heat, where he was overtaken, firstly byToby Martin then by the all-conquering Curren. Trent’s 23.36 tally was onlygood enough for third as the elusive 7.38 plus score required eluded him.
“?it was a long final, I started off with a good ride but I didn?t manage tobuild off it. I made a few little mistakes so maybe next time?you never knowwhat?s going to happen with such a long heat Best three waves leaves thedoor wide open and you can never count anybody out when the waves sorippable and fun?I’m happy with third.” Said Trent.
After the final, free surfers eager to make the most of the insaneconditions swamped the Lohi’s line up. O?Neill?s Bernhard Ritzer thanked thehard work of the Maldivian Surfing Association (MSA), the Association ofSurfing Professionals (ASP) and Surfing Australia for their hard work inmaking the now prestigious Deep Blue Open Event take place. SurfingAustralia’s Matt Wilson summed up the insane week of competition at theprize giving ceremony before ducking into the line up with the otherofficials for a much-deserved rip.
“That would just about be, the best surfing contest I have ever seen, purelyfrom the performance level. The surfers were surfing unbelievably, not justfrom today?s finals, but from the early rounds. Maybe it?s got a lot to dowith this lefthander out here at Lohifushi. It’s a really high performancewave and it really does separate the excellent surfers from the rest of thepack. We have witnessed first hand how far surfing has progressed, and whatthese guys are capable of, its been ridiculous to watch.”
“Tim took the heat in pretty much the same way Chris Ward walked away withthe event last year with another aerial. I don?t know what it is about thisplace everyone just lays it on the line. Tim had a whole pack of Australian’s behind him on that last wave despite three of their fellow countrymanvying for the same title. They don?t really care what country he’s from theyjust want to see good surfing just like we do.”
As the competitors move on to their next destination, the O?Neill Deep BlueOpen Event in the Maldives will definitely rate highly in their memories asone of the best contests of the 2002 WQS season.
During the day the congregated surfers and spectators paid their respects ata memorial service for Jay Moriarity. Jay tragically died whilst free divinghere in the Maldives in 2001. The paddle out was an opportunity for many ofJay’s friends to remember the great man who touched so many lives and who’sabsence will forever leave a huge void in the global surfing community.Thoughts will forever be with Jay and his family. LIVE LIKE JAY.